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  • Copyright

    There has been much discussion on the forum regarding copyright.
    The rules are not as cut and dry as everyone believes them to be.
    Public domain just adds to the confusion.
    I thought that this would be a good place to start some conversations on the topic.

    To start things off I have two links that I am posting, Some myths may be dispelled and many questions are sure to arise.
    I hope we can all get a better understanding of copyright laws even though we are in an international realm.

    Remember that just because we read it on the net doesn't mean it is true.

    "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
    Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21

  • #2
    Templeton's is one of my favorites Carl, thanks for posting it. I wish more people would take the time to read it.

    Below is something I wrote up for another group to try to answer many of the most common questions regarding copyrights. I want to point out that this is my interpretation only of the US Copyright Statute, if in doubt you should contact an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law. Be forewarned, it's a little longwinded.

    A question that comes up quite often is that of copyright. Below I will attempt to clarify some of the issues relating to copyrights as it relates to both pattern design and selling your cuttings.
    First, what is a copyright? The copyright has its roots in the US Constitution Article 1, Section 8 which states “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
    The actual copyright law is sections 101 – 810 of U.S.C. Title 17, The US Copyright Act.
    To quote section 106 of the Code, a copyright grants the following exclusive rights to the creator:
    (1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
    (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
    (3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
    (4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
    (5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
    (6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

    What does this mean to the pattern designers?
    106 (2) clearly states that the copyright owner has exclusive rights to prepare derivative works. A pattern made from a photograph or drawing is considered a derivative work.
    Photographs taken after 1978 are protected under this clause. There are some exceptions to this however, works created by the US Government are not protected by copyright and are part of the public domain. For works created prior to 1978, if the copyright was not renewed, the works are part of the public domain (ref. Dastar Corp. V. Twentieth Century Fox (02-348) 540 U.S. 806 (2003)). All work in the public domain is fair game to make patterns from. All work created prior to 1923 is in the public domain.
    Some examples of work in the public Domain include the original Wizard of Oz, US Wildlife Service Photographs, NASA photos, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photos, Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale Characters, and 19th century paintings and such.
    Regarding photos or drawings that are under copyright protection, your best course of action is to attempt to contact the original photographer and obtain permission to use their photo. Keep records of your attempts and any correspondence.
    There are certain things that cannot be copyrighted. Buildings visible from a public place are one of them and make wonderful patterns. So, US Landmarks, European Castles, Houses, Barns, etc. are all fair game for pattern designers. Useful or utilitarian items are also exempt, you could copyright a fretwork pattern to be used on a shelf for example, but the shelf design itself would not be protected (e.g. how you attach the shelves, the thickness, etc.).
    Many schools (colleges) will grant you a license to use their logo for a small fee, contact their public relations departments for information.

    The fair use doctrine (Section 107) sets out specific areas where a copyrighted work may be used without permission.
    “Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—
    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
    The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.”

    People often cite the above to justify using photos the find on the net for making patterns, nowhere in the Fair Use doctrine is there anything of the sort.

    How does it affect cutters and users of the patterns?
    To quote the US Copyright Office when queried:
    You MAY sell a finished product made from that same pattern as long as there was no contract signed by you before purchasing the pattern or any paper included with the pattern when you received it that specifically states that any derivative (finished product) made from that pattern may not be sold for commercial use or that states that any derivative (finished product) is for personal use only.

    Of course, the above applies to legal patterns, and the restrictions on companies such as Disney, Harley and others still applies.

    "I’m getting out of scrolling, can I sell the patterns that I’ve purchased?"
    Under the first sale doctrine, you CAN sell the original patterns provided you do not keep a copy for yourself.

    As there has been very little legal precedent regarding Scrolling Patterns and copyright law, this is still a gray area in many legal scholars’ minds. Basically, let your conscience be your guide. It is never legal nor ethical to give away another’s pattern (except as noted in the first sale doctrine), steal the work of another, or try to pass off someone else’s work as your own.

    To read the copyright act in its entirety (bring lots of coffee), visit
    Last edited by Jediscroller; 02-01-2008, 06:51 PM.
    Scrollsaw Patterns Online
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